WHEN FEASTING ON CROW INCLUDE THE FEATHERS

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Hola! Daily Prompt! We did jealousy last week. Really. Exactly one week ago, on May 8th, 2015. It was a good one too and I invite all of you to read “DON’T COVET YOUR NEIGHBOR’S ASS.” And if that’s not enough, you can also read my original response from August 2013, “MONEY CAN’T BUY IT.” 

Instead of something more on this worn out subject (not a favorite from the beginning) because I have nothing more to say about jealousy, here’s a favorite anecdote. It’s funny, and a cautionary tale for assholes everywhere.

MOTTO: Make sure, when you set out to humiliate someone, that the shoe does not wind up in your mouth. And that is all the metaphor mixing I can handle for today.

NOTE: The photographs are irrelevant to the story, but I like them, so I’ve used them.


In the mid 1980s in Israel, I worked at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot with the team developing DB1, the first relational database. Those familiar with databases and their history should go “Ooh, aah.” Feel free to be awed. These are my bona fides certifying my “original geekhood.”

I was never a developer, just a computer-savvy writer, but I worked extensively on Quix, the first real-English query language and documented DB-1. I was eventually put in charge of creating promotional materials to sell the project to IBM. They bought it and from it, DB2 and all other relational databases emerged. Cool beans, right?

Technical writing was new. In 1983, it didn’t have a name. I was a pioneer. I didn’t chop down forests or slaughter aboriginal inhabitants, but I went where no one had gone before. Breaking new ground was exciting and risky.

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The president of the group was named Micah. He was the “money guy.” Micah knew less about computers than me, but wielded serious clout. His money was paying our salaries, rent, and keeping the lights on. The definition of clout.

As the day approached when the team from IBM was due, it was time for me to present the materials I had created with Ruth, a graphic artist who had been my art director at the failed newspaper I’d managed the previous year. (This was well before computers could generate graphics properly.) Ruth was amazing with an airbrush. I’ve never seen better work.

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The presentation materials were as perfect as Ruth and I could make them. I had labored over that text and she had done a brilliant job creating graphics that illustrated the product, its unique capabilities and benefits. And so it came time for the pre-IBM all-hands-on-deck meeting.

Micah didn’t like me. His dislike wasn’t based on anything I did or even my disputable personality. He didn’t like women in the workplace. I was undeniably female. As was Ruth. Strike one, strike two. At the meeting, he looked at our materials and announced “We need better material. I’ve heard there’s a real hot-shot in Jerusalem. I’ve seen his work. It’s fantastic. We should hire him.” And he stared at me and sneered.

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Onto the table he tossed booklets as well as other promotional and presentation materials for a product being developed in Haifa at the Technion. I looked at the stuff.

“That’s my work, ” I said.

“No it isn’t,” he said firmly. “I’ve heard it was created by the best technical writer in the country.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Me.”

He was not done with humiliating himself. He insisted a phone be brought to the table and he called his friend Moshe in Jerusalem. I’d worked for Moshe, quitting because although I liked the man, he couldn’t keep his hands to himself. I had a bad-tempered, jealous husband — something I didn’t feel obliged to reveal.

Moshe gave Micah the name of The Hot Shot. It was me.

“Oh,” said Micah. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have to. The deadpan faces around the table were elegant examples of people trying desperately to not laugh. Micah wasn’t a guy you laughed at, not if you wanted to keep your job.

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It was a moment of triumph so sweet — so rare — nothing else in my working life came close. I won one for The Team, for professional women everywhere. Eat it, Micah.



Categories: Anecdote, History, Humor, Israel, Science, Technology, Writing

Tags: , , , , , , ,

31 replies

  1. You tell awesome stories. I’m going to try to find your book.

    Like

  2. We take our victories wherever and whenever we can. Thanks for sharing your story, it must have felt wonderful!
    http://wanderwomanblog.com/2015/01/26/boring-breakfast-meetings-and-a-famous-indian/

    Like

  3. Great story. I’m with you on that one. Your last photo was amazing.

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  4. I recall this story from a long ago post, and had a feeling it was leading to good ol’ Micah again. Some people should just stick to paying the rent and keeping the lights turned on…

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    • It was round 3 of this particular prompt and I had nothing at all to say about it. So I posted a favorite story. I like the happy ending. He was a total asshole. Even though my career lasted more than 30 years after that, he was still one of the top two assholes of my life.

      Like

  5. Very funny post title. Makes me wonder where the original expression came from “eat crow”. I can only imagine that “Crow” must be a very bad tasting bird..??

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  6. And thus a mantra is born. “Eat it, Micah!”

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  7. Read this episode earlier in your book. I loved seeing you winning. It was really a moment of triumph.

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  8. I am an autodidact with the compurter. Some things I get and some I do not. I never got into DOS (Mr. Swiss did) and I must say I admire your gift of database stuff. Your triumph over the boss was perfect.

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    • Well, I didn’t really have a choice. That was the work that was available. I got a six-week course in system analysis — which is NOT programming — so I could understand what was going on … and I liked it. Data management is logical. It made sense to me and I stayed largely in database design and management for the rest of my career … about 35 years. It was (pause) serendipity. I had never heard of database design or management until it became the center of my life. Weird how stuff just happens.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, that was sooooo satisfying! Thank you for sharing that, Marilyn.
    Leslie

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  10. I couldn’t believe that they had a rerun just in one week. that’s pretty sad. I liked your post. Moral of your story “If people desperately try to make a fool of themselves…let them”.

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  11. Ha! In your face, Micah 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This brings back memories (not good ones). 😦 I’m glad you emerged victorious!

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  13. I love the story, Marilyn. Micah was an ass, and you made everyone see it.

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  14. That last pic is my favorite; there’s so much to look at. It’s tricky to get a nice reflection like that. So often there’s vehicles or buildings instead of trees. Love it!

    Like

    • Thank you 🙂 I took a lot of pictures to get a few (very few) good ones. It’s easier to get reflections in water than in glass, but I loved that window with all its strange stuff. I kept trying it from different angles and out of a couple of dozen pictures, I got two i liked. My advice to everyone continues to be: take a lot of pictures. It increases the likelihood of getting one that’s really special:-)

      Liked by 1 person

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